Tuesday: Hili dialogue

October 15, 2019 • 6:30 am

Good morning on October 15, 2019, National Mushroom Day as well as National Red Wine Day, National Cheese Curd Day, National Roast Pheasant Day, National “I Love Lucy” Day, and Global Handwashing Day. If you don’t know what cheese curds are, they’re a snack food of the upper Midwest (especially Wisconsin), usually deep-fried and served alongside a cold brewski, comme ça:

If you eat these regularly, you better have a good cardiologist.


Cheese curds, unfried, are also part of the Canadian staple poutine. But Indian paneer is also a kind of cheese curd, though not deep-fried.

Posting will be light today as I have a gazillion things to prepare before I leave for Antarctica. As always, and like Maru, I do my best.

Stuff that happened on October 15 includes:

  • 1582 – Adoption of the Gregorian calendar begins, eventually leading to near-universal adoption.
  • 1764 – Edward Gibbon is inspired to begin work on The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
  • 1783 – The Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon makes the first human ascent, piloted by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier.
  • 1793 – Queen Marie Antoinette of France is tried and convicted, and condemned to death the following day.
  • 1815 – Napoleon begins his exile on Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.
  • 1888 – The “From Hell” letter allegedly sent by Jack the Ripper is received by investigators.

The letter, shown below, was accompanied by part of a human kidney, with some of it, as noted below, eaten by the killer (presumably without fava beans or Chianti). Among the many bogus letters received by the London police during the Ripper killings, this one is regarded as the most genuine. The letter was sent to George Lusk, the chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committeeand the text is just below.

From hell.
Mr Lusk,
I send you half the Kidney I took from one women preserved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nice. I may send you the bloody knife that took it out if you only wate a while longer
Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk

  • 1894 – Alfred Dreyfus is arrested for spying.
  • 1917 – World War I: Dutch dancer Mata Hari is executed by France for espionage.

Mata Hari’s real name was Margaretha Geertruida “Margreet” MacLeod, and it’s not clear whether she really was a spy. The interest in her case largely came from her being an exotic dancer; here she is in her regalia in 1906:


  • 1951 – Mexican chemist Luis E. Miramontes completes the synthesis of norethisterone, the basis of an early oral contraceptive.
  • 1962 – The CIA notifies the State Department that Soviet ballistic missiles are in Cuba, leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • 1965 – Vietnam War: A draft card is burned during an anti-war rally by the Catholic Worker Movement, resulting in the first arrest under a new law.
  • 1966 – The Black Panther Party is founded.
  • 1969 – In the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, over two million demonstrate nationally; about 250,000 in Washington D.C.
  • 1990 – Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to lessen Cold War tensions and open up his nation.
  • 1997 – The Cassini probe launches from Cape Canaveral on its way to Saturn.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 99 BC – Lucretius, Roman poet and philosopher (d. 55 BCE)
  • 70 BC – Virgil, Roman poet (d. 19 BC)
  • 1542 – Akbar, Mughal emperor (d. 1605)
  • 1858 – John L. Sullivan, American boxer, actor, and journalist (d. 1918)
  • 1881 – P. G. Wodehouse, English novelist and playwright (d. 1975)
  • 1905 – C. P. Snow, English chemist and author (d. 1980)
  • 1917 – Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., American historian and critic (d. 2007)
  • 1946 – Richard Carpenter, American singer-songwriter and pianist

Those who “fell asleep” on October 15 include:

  • 1917 – Mata Hari, Dutch dancer and spy (b. 1876)
  • 1946 – Hermann Göring, German general and politician (b. 1893)
  • 1964 – Cole Porter, American composer and songwriter (b. 1891)
  • W. Eugene Smith, American photojournalist (b. 1918)

To my mind, Smith, along with Henri Cartier-Bresson, were the two best documentary photographers of our era.  Here’s a photo by Smith of a Spanish wake, taken in 1950. It is mesmerizing. You can see more of his images here.

One more death on this day:

  • 1964 – Cole Porter, American composer and songwriter (b. 1891)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is mourning the results of yesterday’s parliamentary election in Poland. The outcome was not good for progressives. As Malgorzata wrote when I asked her how the election went:

Abysmal. The Law and Justice Party won the majority in the lower house of the parliament. Luckily, in the upper house (the Senate), the opposition has a majority of one vote. However, the Senate has some dubious characters who have changed parties many times in the past and are socially conservative.  After the election they are representing a much more liberal opposition but, for instance, if a bill banning all abortion would come up, these characters may vote for it (as the ruling party wants), and not against it (as their own party wants).

Hili’s take:

A: The people have spoken.
Hili: Are you surprised?
A: Yes and no.
In Polish:
Ja: Naród się wypowiedział.
Hili: Dziwisz mu się?
Ja: Tak i nie.

An awesomely carved pumpkin from Amazing Things:

And another from Amazing Things. I wonder if the sign is photoshopped in, but even so it’s clever:

A new stand on free will!

Matt Ridley tweeted a video of this awesome and horrific anglerfish:

Philosopher Maarten Boudry has a new tuxedo kitten named Winston (after Winston Churchill):

From Gravilinspector, with a challenge:


From Gethyn, the crushing of a cat’s spirit:

From Heather Hastie, a kitten pwns a big d*g:

Three tweets from Matthew Cobb. The first one is an amazing case of mimicry: a spider imitating another arachnid, a pseudoscorpion. Just when you think you couldn’t be any more amazed by the workings of natural selection:

Seals are awesome, and this one’s particularly friendly:

The title of this book is a bit disturbing:

26 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. While the missile crisis in Cuba was an interesting and spooky time in history, especially after we learned of the missiles in Turkey and Italy, it seems tame compared to the developing Ukraine-gate being uncovered today. It becomes clearer everyday the happenings in Ukraine this past summer will be the end of this president. It is fitting the honest people working in government will bring this jerk down.

    1. If you think global thermonuclear war is tame, then I guess the Cuban missiles crisis was tame.

      Not saying that the downfall of this president won’t involve global thermonuclear war, of course.

  2. I just had to check: Countries which do not use the Gregorian calendar include Afghanistan and Iran – which use the Solar Hijri calendar, Ethiopia (Ethiopian calendar), and Nepal (Vikram Samvat).

    1. The year is 1722 – don’t you go believing that Julian/Gregorian fake history you sheeple! [a glorious bit of nonsense a couple of steps up in imagination from Birthism, Flat Earth & 9/11 – excellent movie material].

      P.S. Friendly, invited invader William Prince of Orange [Later known as King William III of Great Britain & Ireland], sailed from Hellevoetsluis, Low Countries on 11 November 1688 & arrived at Brixham Harbour, Devon, England on 5 November 1688. A confusing era for those rare historians who go back to real sources of the day.

        1. I’ve never tried cheese curds, I was just going on the fact that Halloumi also squeaks when you bite into it. Having said that, so do mice, and gerbils, and lots of things.

            1. Which was apparently Trump’s entire explanation for pulling out of Syria. He just never liked the curds, even as a kid.

  3. I’m surprised that, with modern DNA analysis, no one has attempted to match kidney tissue from Jack the Ripper’s “letter from hell” to victim DNA, supposing that samples of both still exist. If the letter is authentic, clues of authorship may exist the spelling, penmanship, ink, and paper used.

    1. How can you be “surprised” at the answer to a question you’ve asked to which you don’t appear to know the answer? A quirk of expression I suppose 🙂

      Anyway… the “From Hell” letter Wiki link in the OP above claims the letter & the kidney are lost & thus we are left with just a photographic copy of the letter. The same link goes into some detail about the analysis of that letter & the theories surrounding it.

  4. Jerry, i may have missed it in one of the dialogues (cannot find it in archives),
    but what are your plans in chile and antarctica? Pleasure, study, giving talks…? safe travels.

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